HOWTO: IMPROVE THE CABLE SHIFT ON YOUR 996 GEARBOX
Modern Porsches have what are usually reassuringly smooth and precise cable-operated gear shifts, but even these can become stiff and awkward, especially in hard-driven cars like the GT3 – and sometimes the cables become detached from their bracket on the
Revitalising the cable shift on modern 911s, Boxsters and Caymans
Another month, another 911 gear-shift story. No apologies for any apparent duplication or repetition, though, because the car shown here, an early 996 GT3, is in this respect – and many others, of course – about as different from the 911SC that we looked at back in the September issue as it is possible to be.
The system is cable-operated, for a start, where the SC’S relies on the automotive equivalent of a railroad turnout linkage, and we replaced as a matter of routine the entire plastic gear-shift mechanism – no point in a car of this nature (and potential value) taking any chances with the quality and reliability of the vital interface between your hand and the gearbox behind you, transmitting perhaps 380bhp and 385Nm. The methodology shown is very slightly peculiar to the GT3, but the broad principles are much the same across the entire 996 Carrera range, as well as the 997. (Both the Boxster/cayman have a similar set-up, too, but in those cars the cables run through the engine compartment, requiring the removal of both access panels. Some other time.)
The centre tunnel finisher has to come off – which can seem a little daunting, but is actually quite straightforward – and you then need to get yourself safely under the car in order to disconnect the rear end of each of the two cables from the right-hand side of the transmission casing. Normally these would be simply clipped into place on a sturdy metal bracket, but such has proved to be the inherent fragility of the clips that many cars – like this one – will have had them further secured with common-orgarden plastic cable-ties. And unsurprisingly Porsche-torque’s Sid Malik – our man on the spanners for the day – later secured the new cables in precisely the same way. Once bitten, twice shy.
We should confess that on this occasion we came into the job a short time after Sid had started work, and so missed the preliminary dismantling stages inside the car. For that reason we have shown – unusually for one of these how-to stories – all aspects of the reassembly process. Bear that in mind, then, before you start casually pulling your own car apart.
No special tools are necessary, although you will need a solidly mounted large vice to hold the old gear-shift mechanism firmly enough to allow you to pull the trimmed knob off the blade-like shift lever proper. You will also need some rubber lubricant, to help the cables slide through their large sealing grommet, and then the grommet itself into the hole in the centre tunnel.
The two cables (and they are sold only as a pair) currently cost £210 plus VAT from Porsche, and the shift mechanism just £131 plus VAT – another good reason for binning the old one unless it is very obviously in perfect condition. Fitting times will vary depending upon your abilities and facilities – and any other tasks you find need doing, such as cleaning and painting the shift cables’ mounting bracket, or perhaps changing the transmission oil – but Sid charged this out at three hours. And that, remarkably for a car of this specialised nature, is about it. Full details in the accompanying photos, and their hopefully exhaustively informative captions. PW
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